The deeply cursed production of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has hit another snag, as we’ve now learned that Daniel Kaluuya will not be reprising his role as W’Kabi in the sequel to one of Marvel’s finest movies. Variety confirmed that he was asked to come back, but his team said he was too busy on Jordan Peele’s Nope for it work out.
That’s another unfortunate development in a production that’s struggled like few blockbusters in recent memory. Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri and is getting elevated to a bigger role in the sequel, sustained an onset injury that shut down production for several months while director Ryan Coogler worked around the star’s absence. Wright has also been vocally skeptical of vaccines, giving rise to rumors of some onset issues in the Covid-19 era, though the Hollywood Reporter says such issues were “resolved.” That said, shooting was delayed for several weeks while several members of the cast and crew dealt with Covid infection, Lupita Nyong’o among them.
And then, of course, the tragic passing of the franchise’s star, Chadwick Boseman, left Marvel Studios with a difficult decision. Ultimately, the decision was made to honor Boseman’s legacy by not recasting the part of T’Challa himself and instead explore other Wakandan characters. Marvel has been tight-lipped about their plans for the mantle of the Black Panther and whether or not it will pass on to someone else. Evidently, it will not be passing on to Kaluuya’s character.
The Black Panther was a bonafide smash and a cultural moment when it debuted near the height of Marvel’s cultural power. Any sequel would have a lot to live up to, and that’s before you get into a production fraught with tragedy and misfortune. Coogler is a wonderful talent and the cast clearly believes in what they’re doing. We’ll see how it all went when Wakanda Forever drops, supposedly this November.